How-To: Make Your First Tactic

This isn’t a definitive guide, but it’s a place to start. Always watch as much of the match as possible to see what is working and what is not. When changing things, do it one thing at a time so that you can see its effect – too many changes and you won’t see what has worked and what hasn’t…

Also, pay particular attention to the mid-lower table team instructions when in lower leagues – mid table instructions if you’re in a lower league but a decent team within that league, bottom half instructions if you’re in a lower league and predicted/expect mid-table or lower.


First things first, you’ve got to pick a Formation that’ll suit the players you have. There’s no point picking a formation with wingers if you don’t have any, or have them but they can’t cross/dribble well. When picking roles for players, consider the player’s strengths – there’s no point playing a DM/Anchor Man that has poor tackling/marking/heading/strength. Using the TC, (Tactics Creator) look at the attributes the role requires, and look to see whether the players in that position that you have match up. If it turns out that your ‘backup’ player has the better attributes for the role, use him rather than someone who is better in other areas – you could still incorporate him differently, using the DM example, as a Ball Winning Mid or deep lying playmaker, assuming he has the required attributes.

When it comes to choosing Team Mentality, consider your team’s reputation, expected league position, available players and, new for FM2013; the Board’s Expectations. Are you Arsenal, Bolton or Wigan? Determining your reputation relative to the rest of the league will somewhat determine what you initially choose. For an Arsenal type side, you’ll probably want to lean towards Fluid and Attacking, a mid table side would probably be more suited towards Balanced and Control, whereas a nearer to bottom team would probably work best with Rigid and Counter, or even Defensive on an away day.

The rest is determined by the way you want the team to play, within the players’ ability. Short Passing and high Tempo is a no-no if the players passing, decisions and anticipation are poor, whereas a direct game isn’t as effective if you have more creative players and want to keep possession and tire the opposition before slipping a through ball in to score, Barcelona style.

Creative Freedom and Roaming generally go hand-in-hand. For your Arsenal type side with shorter passing and a high tempo, consider playing More Expressive and More Roaming, a balanced mid-table side would be suited to Default for both, where a bottom-half/counter-attacking side would probably be best playing More Disciplined and Stick To Position.

Closing Down depends on player stamina and player tackling/marking ability. Short passing and attacking teams should look to Press, balanced teams would be Default and counter-attacking teams would generally Stand Off and Counter.

Tackling and Marking are another that generally go hand-in-hand. I’d suggest a side playing a fluid, short passing game to use a ‘More Cautious’ and ‘Zonal’ setup, a balanced side to use Default/Man and a more defensive side using More Aggressive/Man.

Crossing is going to depend on three things, irrespective of reputation: Crossing ability, Creativity, Flair and Technique. If your wingers possess these attributes at high levels, float crosses. If they have moderate/low attributes in these areas, stay with Default or Drill crosses – though this changes somewhat depending on ths striker you’re crossing for, while still remembering your winger’s abilities. If the striker is a good header/jumper, float crosses would give the player time to get up and head it in, drill crosses will benefit shorter, faster players with good shooting/composure/technique.

Advanced Options: (Leave these alone if you like shouts to alter things – ticked items are unaffected by shouts)

Defensive line: Lower if you have slower defenders and/or opposition has pacy striker(s) and if you want to play a counter-attacking game, Higher if you have pacy defenders and/or opposition has a target man/slower strikers and if you play a pressing game.

Width: Wider if you want to stretch a narrow opposition and possess decent passers, opposite applies if not.

Tempo: A higher tempo works well with a fluid, short passing team to zip the ball about, but requires more technical players and high stamina.

Timewasting: Leave unticked if you like shouting. Use at the end of games if holding a lead.

Focus Passing: Generally, leave to mixed unless you have a vastly superior flank, or use play through the middle if using a narrow formation/ have a stronger central midfield. Also good if the opposition has a weak flank or is playing narrow. Take advantage by focussing passing down the weak flank, or both flanks if they play narrow.

Counter Attack: Works well for ‘lesser’ teams that invite the opposition on with deeper defending, and creating space in behind as the opposition come forward.

Play Offside: I never do, but that’s a preference thing. I find I get caught out more times than it catches the opposition.


Feedback both welcomed and encouraged, whether positive or constructive.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

Originally posted on


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